LOCAL NEWS

For the first time, female grizzly bear captured, radio collared, and released in Washington

Jul 16, 2021, 8:44 AM
grizzly bear...
Female grizzly with three offspring (Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife)
(Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife)

For the first time in Washington, wildlife biologists captured a female grizzly bear and fitted her with a radio collar.

Four adult males were captured in 1985, 2016, and 2018, but this was the first time a female was captured.

The bear, which was with her three yearling offspring, was then released. The radio collar will help biologists learn more about grizzly bears in Washington.

“Understanding how the bears are using the landscape will aid biologists in advancing recovery of the species,” said Hannah Anderson, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s diversity division manager.

Grizzly bears are listed as a threatened species under the federal Endangered Species Act and classified as an endangered species in Washington.

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The bear was captured about 10 miles from the Washington-Idaho border near Metaline Falls in northeast Washington on U.S. Forest Service land by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologists.

Her offspring ran into the surrounding woods while biologists put on the collar and did a health check, but returned to their mother once she was released and the humans left.

“A group of bears — a mother and three cubs — were photographed on another occasion on a game camera in the same area three to four weeks prior to the capture,” said Wayne Kasworm, grizzly bear biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “The natal collar — the white ring around the neck — of one of the cubs leads us to believe this is the same family of bears.”

Many people are surprised to learn that there is a small population of grizzlies in northeast Washington, the state Department of Fish and Wildlife said.

“Currently, there are believed to be at least 70 to 80 grizzly bears in the Selkirk Grizzly Bear Recovery Zone,” Kasworm said. “About half those bears live on the Canadian side of the border, with the other half on the U.S. side.”

Grizzlies in that area roam between northern Idaho, northeastern Washington, and southeastern British Columbia.

“Grizzly bears once occupied much of the Cascade and Selkirk Ranges, but their numbers were severely reduced as a result of persecution by early settlers and habitat degradation. Grizzly bear recovery started in 1981 and it took 40 years to confirm the first known female in Washington, that’s pretty remarkable,” said Rich Beausoleil, a bear and cougar biologist with WDFW.

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For the first time, female grizzly bear captured, radio collared, and released in Washington